Last Monday night, Alexander the Touched Kitty (so called because he’s a bit lulu, batty, non compos mentis) comes trotting into the living room where Doug and I are sitting on the sofa. He has a mouse in his mouth.
“Good kitty!” Doug says.
The Touched Kitty is growling in the back of his throat. I look at the limp mouse in his mouth. “Is it dead?” I ask Doug.
Still growling, Alexander trots into our bedroom. A few minutes later, he trots back out, sans mouse. Doug goes to get the mouse’s body and take it outside.
Only it’s not dead. He sees it run across the room.
“You’re kidding me!” I storm into the bedroom. “He didn’t kill it?!? Crazy stupid cat! He’s supposed to catch the mouse and kill it, not bring it into my bedroom and let it go!”
I can hear scritching somewhere over by the armoir. Or maybe it’s coming from inside the armoir. I fling the armoir doors open and jump back, but no mouse hops out. I rattle the baskets inside, hoping to scare it out. No dice.
“It must be behind it,” I say to Doug. I look between the back of the armoir and the wall. No mouse. I look between the side of the armoir and the other wall, and I see a little tail hanging down from the top.
“I see it,” I say to Doug. “What do I do?”
“Keep an eye on it.” He goes to the kitchen for a pair of tongs and the wok lid, our trusty mouse-trapping tools. For the first time in my life, I wish we had a gun. Then I imagine the scene at the beginning of Ratatouille when the old woman shoots her house all to bits trying to kill Remi the rat, and I decide I’m cool with the tongs and the wok lid.
Instead, Doug comes back with the Touched Kitty and hands him to me. “I’ll pull the armoir out from the wall a bit and scare the mouse onto the floor. Then you let Alexander down.”
It sounds good to me. Alexander will finish the job he started, and I’ll be able to go to bed without worrying that there’s a mouse in my room.
When the mouse drops onto the floor, I toss Alexander back into the space between the armoir and the wall. He flips over and runs out of the room.
“What the heck?” I say.
“Maybe he didn’t see it,” Doug says.
“How could he not see it?” I say. “It’s right there.” I point at the poor mouse cowering in the corner. “You’d have to be blind not to see it!”
“Try again,” Doug says. So I go coax Alexander back into my arms and carry him to the bedroom. I point at the mouse. “See, kitty? See the mouse?” Then I set him down. He hisses and bolts out the bedroom door and the mouse bolts over my foot—I scream—and under the bed.
I feel stupid for screaming. I listen a moment, but the kids are still asleep. I look at Doug. “I hate that cat,” I say. “Now what?”
“Now we’re on our own.”
We spend the next hour and a half—I kid you not—chasing that stupid mouse around our bedroom. It runs under the blanket chest, the bed, the nightstands. It hides behind a chair, the kids’ toy bins, Doug’s guitar case. We keep moving furniture and pulling things out of our bedroom and piling them in the living room, so the mouse has fewer places to hide.
Then it runs into our closet, and we pull out all our clothes, hangers and all, and pile them on the bed. We find it hiding behind Doug’s computer monitor and keyboard (which of course live in the back of our tiny closet; where else would you keep a monitor and keyboard?).
In retrospect, we realize we should have grabbed a towel and thrown the towel over the mouse and then trapped it under the wok lid. But it’s after 11, and we’re tired and not thinking very clearly.
A wok lid, in case you didn’t know, is made of metal, and metal doesn’t bend very easily. So when you try to capture a mouse that is hiding in the corner of your closet with an unbending metal wok lid, the mouse escapes because there are gaps between the bottom of the lid and the floor.
I watch the mouse run under the bed. We move the bed. It’s not there.
More moving of furniture ensues. A lot of it, actually, and still we can’t find the mouse. It’s just—poof!—vanished.
“It has to be here,” I say.
“Well, you tell me where it is then,” Doug says, “because I don’t see it.”
I don’t see it either, but I know it’s here somewhere. I look around the room, under the bed again, under the armoir, on top of the armoir, under the nightstands and the blanket chest. There’s nowhere else it could be.
“I’m going to bed,” Doug says, and he starts hanging our clothes back in the closet.
“I won’t be able to sleep,” I say. “Not knowing it’s in here.”
“Kimberlee, it’s nearly midnight. What do you propose we do?”
I don’t know. But sleeping with a mouse in my room is not on my list of preferred sleeping arrangements.
While Doug finishes hanging up our clothes, I go brush my teeth and wash my face. When I come back to the bedroom, Doug has already turned out the light and is lying in bed. I crawl in beside him and lie there in the dark, feeling vulnerable and creeped out. I imagine the mouse scrabbling up onto our bed and running across our faces while we sleep, and I shudder.
And then I hear the scritching.
It’s coming from directly under my head.
“Do you hear that?” I whisper to Doug.
It’s trying to get into the air return vent, which is under my side of the head of the bed.
We both hop out of bed. Doug flips on the light, and we pull the bed away from the wall.
I lean over to see if the mouse is still there. It’s not, but I can hear its little feet scampering down the metal vent. I look at Doug. “Well,” he says, “at least it’s not in our bedroom.”
We cover the air vent with a puzzle box and several of Doug’s fat programming textbooks. Then we slide the bed back into place, turn off the light, and go to bed.
When the heater comes on, I swear I can smell the mouse germs blowing on my face. My throat starts to constrict. “I think I’m allergic to mice,” I tell Doug. “This is the same feeling I had when I was cleaning up the basement after you and Jack ripped out the insulation. Like my chest is congested, like I have pneumonia. Or maybe it’s hantavirus.”
“Probably,” he mumbles, half-asleep already.
I don’t fall asleep for a long while. I lie in bed and worry that I’m going to die in my sleep, that the bronchioles in my lungs will swell shut from the mouse dander blowing in through the heating vents.
But if they don’t, if I live till morning, I vow come sunup I’m going to get me a better cat.
Want more mouse mess? Read the final installment of my mouse saga.